Training residents in obesity counseling: incorporating principles of motivational interviewing to enhance patient centeredness.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: The US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that physicians screen patients for obesity and practice counseling interventions to achieve modest (4%-8%) weight loss. Despite this, physicians frequently do not document obesity and/or counsel on weight loss. Our goal was to develop an innovative, easily disseminated workshop to improve resident physicians' skills and confidence in weight-loss counseling. METHODS: We developed a tailored 3-hour interactive Obesity Counseling Workshop. The approach incorporates principles of motivational interviewing, a set of listening and counseling skills designed to enhance patient centeredness and promote behavior change. Adult learning theory served as the foundation for program delivery. The half-day session is administered monthly to internal medicine and pediatric residents on outpatient rotations. KEY RESULTS: To date 77 residents (44 internal medicine and 33 pediatric) have completed the workshop, with approximately even distribution of postgraduate year (PGY)-1, PGY-2, and PGY-3 level residents. Forty-two were women and less than half planned to pursue a primary care-oriented career. Residents completed a 10-item workshop evaluation, with each category scoring an average of 3.5 or greater on a 4-point Likert scale. Residents reported the workshop was well organized and addressed an important topic; they enjoyed the role-playing with observation and feedback. CONCLUSIONS: Residents welcomed the opportunity to participate in an interactive workshop focused on obesity counseling and behavior change, and particularly liked putting new skills into practice with role-playing and receiving real-time feedback. Future analyses will determine the workshop's effect on knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Burton AM; Agne AA; Lehr SM; Davis NJ; Willett LL; Cherrington AL
  • Start Page

  • 408
  • End Page

  • 411
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 3